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First electronic computer celebrates 70th anniversary

The 70th anniversary of the world's first electronic computer will be celebrated today by code-breaking veterans and their families.

Colossus Mk I - the world's first electronic computer. Credit: Peter Jordan/PA Archive

Read: Gay World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing given posthumous pardon

Seven decades ago today, Colossus Mk I attacked its first message written in the complex code used by Adolf Hitler and his generals during the Second World War.

Colossus was built to speed up code-breaking of the sophisticated Lorenz cipher and is regarded as the world's first digital, electronic computer.

By the end of the war there were 10 functioning Colossi machines, which had a decisive impact on the war.

To mark the anniversary, Colossus veterans and their families will gather at The National Museum of Computing at code-breaking institution Bletchley Park where they will see a re-enactment of the code-breaking process from intercept to decrypt with a working rebuild of Colossus.

Read: Who was the code-breaker who helped save Britain in WW2?

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Belated funeral lined up for WW2 bomber crewman

An airman whose bomber crashed into a swamp in Nazi Germany may finally receive a proper funeral, more than 70 years after his death.

Halifax bombers on a bombing raid during World War 2
Halifax bombers on a bombing raid during World War 2 Credit: Topham/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

Sergeant Roland Hill, 32, was a flight engineer on a Halifax bomber which was brought down over Germany in August 1943.

The airman, of 158 Squadron, died in the crash along with the rest of the seven-man crew. His body may now finally be removed from the murky waters north of Berlin allowing his funeral to take place.

An RAF Halifax bomber pictured during an attack on an oil plant in Germany's Ruhr
An RAF Halifax bomber pictured during an attack on an oil plant in Germany's Ruhr Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The crash site was discovered in 2002 but German archaeologists have only just been given permission from authorities to excavate the site.

Until now, the only memorial to Sgt Hill has been an inscription of his name on the RAF's Runnymede Memorial in Surrey.

Former SS soldier charged over 1944 Nazi massacre

An 88-year-old former SS soldier has been charged in Germany over the Second World War massacre of an entire French village in which 642 men, women and children were killed.

The man, who has not been named, faces 25 counts of murder. Cologne state court said he was also charged with hundreds of counts of accessory to murder in connection with the 1944 atrocity.

Prosecutors say he shot 25 men as part of a firing squad, and then helped as troops blockaded and then set fire to a church, where dozens of women and children were killed.

The suspect's lawyer, Rainer Pohlen, said he did not deny being at the village but said he never fired a shot that day and was not otherwise involved in any killings.

The court now needs to decide whether to move ahead with a trial, but the suspect first has until 31 March to respond to the charges.

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WW2 code-breaker Alan Turing given posthumous Royal Pardon

Alan Turing.
Alan Turing. Credit: Bletchley Park

Second World Warcode-breaker Alan Turing has been given a posthumous royal pardon for a 61-year-old conviction for homosexual activity.

Dr Turing, who was pivotal in breaking the Enigma code, arguably shortening the Second World War by at least two years, was chemically castrated following his conviction in 1952.

His conviction for "gross indecency" led to the removal of his security clearance and meant he was no longer able to work for Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) where he had continued to work following service at Bletchley Park during the war.

Dr Turing, who died aged 41 in 1954 and is often described as the father of modern computing, has been granted a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy by the Queen following a request from Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

"Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind," Mr Grayling said.

Decorated bomber command hero passes away

One of the Second World War's most decorated airmen has sadly passed away after recently celebrating his one hundredth birthday.

Former Lancaster bomber Jim Flint always insisted that despite receiving many honours, including the George Medal, he was not a hero.

Jim Flint always insisted he was not a hero despite receiving the George Medal. Credit: ITV News

Read: British WWII hero Jim Flint celebrates 100th birthday

War veteran to receive final farewell after public appeal

War veteran Frederick Leach is set to be given a fitting send-off after an appeal for people to pay tribute to him at his funeral.

Mr Leach, who was 94-years-old, fought in the Second World War and was involved in especially heavy fighting in Norway. But he has no known family, leading to an appeal for people to attend his final farewell from Redcar and Cleveland Council, which had been managing his care

An appeal has been made for people to attend the funeral of World War 2 veteran Frederick Leach.
An appeal has been made for people to attend the funeral of World War 2 veteran Frederick Leach. Credit: Stefan Sauer/DPA/Press Association Images

The appeal comes days after hundreds of people responded to a similar call to attend the funeral of Dambusters veteran Harold Jellicoe Percival, who served as ground crew in the famous raids in May 1943. He died aged 99 after never marrying or having children.

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